Book Review: Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

About the Book:

Title: Arch-Conspirator

Author: Veronica Roth

Page Length: 128

Publication Date: Feb. 21, 2023

Publisher: Tor Books

Synopsis: Outside the last city on Earth, the planet is a wasteland. Without the Archive, where the genes of the dead are stored, humanity will end.

Passing into the Archive should be cause for celebration, but Antigone’s parents were murdered, leaving her father’s throne vacant. As her militant uncle Kreon rises to claim it, all Antigone feels is rage. When he welcomes her and her siblings into his mansion, Antigone sees it for what it really is: a gilded cage, where she is a captive as well as a guest.

But her uncle will soon learn that no cage is unbreakable. And neither is he.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

I love retellings and reimaginings, but I’ve never read one related to Antigone, so I was super curious to see how it would transition. Set in a post-apocalyptic world that depends on women’s ability to reproduce, this dystopian retelling of Antigone stays true to the original story while offering a fresh and twisted modernization.

I taught Antigone for many years, and it’s fascinating to see how a classic Greek tragedy can transition to a post-apocalyptical, radiation-ravaged world. The teacher’s wheels in my head were spinning while I read, and I constantly thought about all the different lessons I could make if I had taught the book alongside the Greek drama. The novella is cleverly constructed and captivatingly written, and I think Antigone fans will appreciate how Roth twines the classic piece into a new setting.

Roth creates such unique dystopian worlds, and this story is no exception. Antigone and her siblings are vilified because they were created by natural conception rather than the genetically modified way that is expected in this society. Long-term consequences abound because of their origins, especially after their parents are killed during a rebellion. I found all of the siblings so interesting, and I like that the story switches perspectives between them, as well as other minor characters like Antigone’s uncle, aunt, and betrothed. It offers a look at a variety of perspectives, though the story remains more Antigone’s than the others.

I also like that the story highlights the same messages of hubris, religious and ethical beliefs, the abuse of power, having autonomy over one’s body, and family loyalty as Antigone does. They are universal and relatable themes that work equally as well in this setting as they did in ancient Greece. And I love Antigone! She’s strong and smart, and her determination to stand up for what is right regardless of the consequences always captivates me.

There are parts of the story where I wanted more, especially when it came to character development. Antigone is definitely dynamic and layered, but some of the secondary characters felt flat and one-dimensional. Some aspects of the plot and setting felt that way too, as did the ending. It was almost like reading an abridged version of a story, and I wanted more. That being said, there are other parts of the story, like Antigone, her relationship with her sister, and the role of women in society, that are nuanced, layered, and provocative.

Overall, I think Arch-Conspirator is a unique and immersive adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone. It’s a quick, engaging, and thought-provoking read, especially for those who are familiar with the original play. Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing me with a copy of the novella. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Parts:

  • The writing style.
  • Antigone.
  • The themes.

Favorite Lines:

What better way to take power from a symbol than to claim it as your own?

Silence, I suppose, is its own kind of message and its own kind of ending. Just not one that anyone wants to hear.

It’s not cowardice to run from an inferno rather than spit water at it.

Protecting a thing was just an excuse to control it.

That was the thing about l as last times – you kept pressing into yourself for a more pure experience, but the pressure made any experience impossible.

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